Idaho is seeing a huge boost in cybersecurity jobs, according to a new report.
Data Analysts from the Idaho Department of Labor looked at data from all over the state, and found cybersecurity jobs had grown 160 percent since 2015 — and a 28% increase in 2020 alone.
"Despite the nationwide pandemic, the number of cybersecurity job openings in Idaho saw a 28% increase in 2020 with an estimated 1,200 available postings through the course of the year. Since 2015, openings for cybersecurity jobs have grown by 160%, sustained by accelerating demand across multiple industry sectors," the report said.
* Job postings have been filtered to reflect computer/math occupations with job postings that request cybersecurity skills as determined from the Burning Glass skills taxonomy.
The report says Idaho has the potential to develop a thriving ecosystem in nearly every region across the state. In a 2017 Report by New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative, the authors identified four factors that contribute to cluster growth:
- Proximity to government cybersecurity functions.
- The ability to attract or develop a workforce.
- The presence of research centers and incubators.
- Industry leadership.
This isn't a trend unique to Idaho. Nationwide, job postings rose to more than 350,000 in 2020. Experts say with rising phishing attacks fueled by pandemic concerns and widespread remote work, the industry is set to grow even more rapidly. According to a recent Fortune Business Insights Market Report, the global cybersecurity market size was $153.16 billion in 2020 and is projected to more than double to $366.1 billion in 2028.
With all that growth comes growing pains--mainly, a need for people to fill all these new positions. As Idaho News 6 reported, the scarcity of skilled workers is growing more intense, despite the amount of unemployment created by the pandemic.
Idaho's universities are working to help fill that gap through cybersecurity programs. Boise State University offers several cybersecurity options--including camps for younger students and a cybersecurity program.
Dr. Sin Ming Loo, a professor in the program, explains there are a variety of jobs within cybersecurity--and part of his job is to help make sure his students are prepared for anything and everything.
The program at Boise State follows a "stackable" model, essentially allowing students to go for a standalone certificate with industry certification towards a bachelor's degree. The program also partners with industry professionals in order to give their students real-world lessons.
"The idea is to bring industry expertise into the classroom so the next generation of cyber-professionals can learn from them," said Dr. Loo.
For students like Sam Acker that are gearing up to graduate, it's a program that's set him up for success and allowed him to turn his passion into a career.
"It's like the ultimate puzzle, you have the thing you're trying to protect, and how would you go about going into it, and how can you keep the bad guys out of it. It's very challenging--very engaging," Acker said.